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Recovery Month Kicks-Off in Orange County - Hudson Valley News Network

MIDDLETOWN – Federal, state, and local officials joined together on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 to kick-off September as Recovery Month in Orange County. A national observance sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Recovery Month raises awareness of mental and/or substance use disorders, celebrates individuals in long-term recovery, and acknowledges the work of prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

According to SAMHSA, among people aged 12 and older, 21.5 million people (8.1%) in the United States were classified with substance dependence or abuse in the past year. An estimated 100,000 people in Orange County are affected by issues of mental health and substance use, according to the Orange County Department of Mental Health.

Speakers at the kick-off event discussed the growing issue of mental and/or substance use disorders, the epidemic growth of addiction to heroin and prescription opioids, and the critical role that prevention, treatment, and support services play in an individual’s recovery and improved quality of life. Officials on the federal, state, and local levels are working closely with human service agencies in Orange County to promote legislation, implement preventive measures, help loved ones recognize the signs of a problem, and guide those in need to appropriate treatment and recovery support services.

Recovery Month kick-off speakers included United States Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, New York State Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, New York State Assemblyman James Skoufis, Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus, Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler, Orange County Commissioner of Mental Health and Social Services Darcie M. Miller, and Orange County Court Judge Robert Freehill. Linda Muller, President and CEO of Cornerstone Family Healthcare, spoke on behalf of the addiction services agencies participating in the Recovery Month kick-off which also included Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange and Sullivan, HONOR, and RECAP.

The event emphasized the critical role that community partnerships play in affecting change so that individuals experiencing mental health and/or substance use disorders receive the support they need in order to make a life in recovery possible. In Orange County, community partners in support of recovery include all levels of government, county agencies, community-based organizations, and health care providers, as well as law enforcement and the judicial system.

“Recovery Month provides an important opportunity to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic, which has had a negative impact on many families in our community, and provides information to help those individuals battling the disease. We will continue to work with our community partners to implement strategies and programs to prevent addiction and provide those in need with care and treatment. We need to do everything we can to bring attention to this epidemic,” said Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus.

“Today’s event illustrates the value of partnerships,” said Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Chair of the New York State Assembly’s Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. “Together we are stronger. Together we can make a difference in the lives of those who are suffering from the disease of addiction. Together we can lend a helping hand to the family members who are striving to ensure that their loved ones receive the care and support they need. The reality is that good mental health is essential to good overall health – prevention works, treatment is effective, and people do recover.”

Orange County Commissioner of Mental Health and Social Services Darcie M. Miller said, “It is so important in this fight against addiction to acknowledge the many millions of individuals embracing recovery each and every day. In Orange County, our goal is to work together with all provider systems to create opportunities for expanded access to care and hopeful experiences that lead to recovery including medication assisted treatment when appropriate. The work that we do and opportunities that we create can save lives.”

“Collaboration between treatment providers and the judicial system plays an important role in the fight against drug addiction,” said Orange County Court Judge Robert Freehill, who oversees the Judicial Diversion Court Program in Orange County. “Drug treatment courts provide those interested in recovery with a hopeful option – an alternative to incarceration. Working in concert with treatment providers, Drug Court intervention helps keep offenders accountable, gives them the tools they need to live a drug-free life, and offers a pathway to life in recovery – outside of jail.”

“We as a people, as one community, need to continue to collaborate to change societal, medical, government, and industry policies to help educate the general public on the needs, rights, and struggles of those seeking recovery. This is a disease, just like heart disease, and we have to continue the fight for access to appropriate and affordable treatment, and to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with the disease,” said Linda Muller, President and CEO of Cornerstone Family Healthcare.

Orange County Executive Neuhaus and Stephen Brescia, Chairman of the Orange County Legislature, will jointly proclaim September as Recovery Month in Orange County at the Orange County Legislature’s monthly meeting on Thursday, September 1 at 3:30 pm at the Emergency Services Building at 22 Wells Farm Road, Goshen. The pair will present the proclamation to representatives from Catholic Charities, Cornerstone Family Healthcare, HONOR, and RECAP.

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